While some 2019 high school graduates are beginning their first year at college, some are entering the military, and still some are already in the working world, one local graduate is heading to Senegal.
Sinead Nardi-White, Nelson High School class of 2019, will spend the next eight months abroad in Senegal with Global Citizen Year. According to its website, Global Citizen Year is “an immersive gap year program for bold high school grads who are hungry to experience the world and make an impact before college.”
As a requirement for this program, Nardi-White is fundraising to ensure future individuals have the opportunity to travel because of the program scholarships. What makes this gap year program unique is the scholarship money given to fellows accepted into the program and the requirement that they do what they can to help other fellows in the future.
“The point is to make [Global Citizen Year] accessible for everyone and not based on grades or whether or not you want to go to college,” Nardi-White said.
In order to be able to spend this time abroad, Nardi-White said she was given a generous scholarship of $20,000 from the program, which costs $30,000 over all.
“They have you fundraise as much as possible to pay it forward,” Nardi-White said.
Through donations from family and friends, as well as using graduation money, Nardi-White has been able to hit and just exceed her minimum requirement of $2,500 in fundraising to ensure the future of the program for future fellows.
“The point is it’s not going to you, it’s going to kids in future years as part of scholarships,” Nardi-White said.
Although she left on Aug. 25, her fundraising efforts will continue for the eight months she’s abroad. Nardi-White said after hitting the required fundraising benchmarks of Global Citizen Year, she is still hoping to bring in more money for future program fellows.
Abby Falik, founder and CEO of the nonprofit program, said when she graduated high school she was looking for a program abroad to help the transition between high school and college. Unfortunately, Falik couldn’t find a program until she was already in college and took a leave of absence to work in Latin America.
“It was the most important part of my education. That committed me to making sure these opportunities were available for others,” Falik said.
Falik said Global Citizen Year is almost 10 years old and this year is welcoming 150 individuals from 35 states. The first year the organization was up and running, it placed just 11 individuals in different countries.
“It’s not exclusively for low-income kids, but for the best kids possible and they come from all over,” Falik said.
On Aug. 25, Falik was getting ready to welcome the new fellows to the program for a week of training in California before they went off to their assigned countries for a year of growth, learning, and leadership.
Nardi-White will be in Thiés, Senegal with a host family from the end of August through the beginning of April. She’ll have a job in the community as an apprentice in a carpentry shop and will help teach English at a school in the community. Nardi-White will be able learn the culture as well as the language through her eight months of working in the area. Senegal is a multilingual country with Wolof being the most widely spoken language and French being the official language.
“The community and hospitality is what I’m excited for. I’ve heard Senegal fellows have a more enriching experience because of that,” Nardi-White said.
For Nardi-White, who hopes to study political science in college and work as an activist, she believes having an understanding of international relations will benefit her prior to college and she is excited to begin that during her time in Senegal.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.